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Charities anticipate holiday giving

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (11/21/11 )--Children and retailers aren't the only ones eagerly anticipating the holidays. Charitable organizations have their hopes set on a big return for the fast-approaching 2011 holiday season.

And for good reason. A recent study commissioned by Harris Interactive reports that 51% of Americans are more likely to give a charitable gift, despite planning to spend less on holiday presents this year. The report also found that 80% of adults prefer to receive gifts that help others else instead of a traditional holiday gift (SacBee.com Nov. 14)

Whether you plan to give charitable gifts or simply to donate to your favorite organization during the holidays, it's especially important in today's economy to make sure your charitable dollars have the greatest impact. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Distinguish your dollars. Focus on organizations you or your loved ones care about most. While all charities appreciate your support, concentrating on one organization allows your donation or purchase to have a greater impact.
  • Curb administrative costs. Organizations typically collect a percentage of cash donations or gift purchases for administrative costs. Find out how much of what you give will actually go to your intended cause by contacting the charity or researching it online. The Better Business Bureau has an excellent online resource at bbb.org/charity.
  • Think cash instead of cans. Dollars go further than already purchased goods. Food banks are able to leverage relationships within the community to buy more with a cash donation than you can at your local grocery store. Consider donating the amount you would have spent in lieu of buying items to donate.
For related information, read "Smart Spending Puts Holiday Shoppers in Control of Cart" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.